July 03, 2024

Thanks to the advent of social media, a compelling story can connect millions of people with the click of a button. This is all the more likely when we relate to the stories being told. Storytelling is a skill that has prevailed through the ages, so it’s a no-brainer that it has become a go-to marketing strategy for academic institutions.

Incoming students crave someone or something to ease their fears throughout an unfamiliar process, and a relatable story can be the perfect fix. Follow along to learn how to leverage the power of authentic storytelling in a way that defines your brand narrative and resonates with incoming students.

The Power of Narrative in Marketing

The best marketers consistently utilize the power of a strong narrative. You are much more likely to reach a larger audience with a captivating tale than statistics and facts. The right story can build an emotional connection with potential students and build trust.

Identifying the Key Elements of Effective Digital Storytelling

What the most effective marketers have in common is that they have simplified their execution by splitting digital storytelling into four key elements: relatable characters, strong narrative, vivid imagery, and an inspiring call to action.

Ideally, prospective students should be able to envision themselves succeeding within your community before they ever step foot on campus. So the “characters” in your story need to be relatable to help viewers live vicariously through them. Utilizing a narrative that highlights conflict resolution, you can help them experience possible challenges and successes through the eyes of others. Just ensure that you always highlight the vibrant aspects of campus life and share a glimpse of their future.

They say seeing is believing, and when it comes crafting a compelling narrative about campus life, that is especially true. Use videos, photos, infographics and anything else at your disposal that you believe would serve as a proof point for your stories and inspire people to learn more. Take advantage of YouTube, social media, and websites related to your institution to attract a global audience and generate organic interest.

And most importantly, once the hard work of creating this content is done, make sure you close the loop by have a motivating call to action that guides students to the next steps. CTAs are known to drastically increase the likelihood that your viewer will engage, and a directive makes the process of proceeding clear and simple.

Encouraging Personal Experiences

Now that you know what you should be doing, let’s talk about how to do it consistently. To truly harness the power of digital storytelling, it’s crucial to encourage individuals to share their personal experiences. Asking students, alumni, and faculty to share their voices can be operationalized through surveys, social media prompts, and campus events. Whether it’s a life-changing lecture, an unexpected friendship, a story about accidentally starting a fire on day one in the dorms… No? Just us? Regardless, these personal stories can become powerful narratives that resonate deeply with prospective student.

Aligning Stories with Your Brand Identity

While it’s important for stories to be relatable and visually interesting, they must also echo the greater story and voice of your brand. Every narrative shared should reinforce the values, mission, and identity of your institution. Consistency in messaging ensures that prospective students not only relate to individual stories but also gain a clear and cohesive understanding of what your institution stands for. This alignment helps in building a strong brand identity that is memorable and appealing to your target audience.

See It In Practice

Stanford University is a pro at using video content to tell stories. In 2019, they ran the #Stanford19 campaign on Instagram, where they placed a spotlight on 2019 graduates. Each video was a story about a student, their background, and their accomplishments at Stanford. With over 600,000 followers at the time, they were able to reach thousands of potential students and connect with them in an inspirational way.

Taking a different approach, Wright State University launched a new Push-built brand in 2016, with a narrative of being a school that doesn’t try to weed out the ones who won’t succeed––but instead tries to find the success in everyone. Their story drew in potential incoming students, many of whom were non-traditional and needed to balance every other aspect of life along with school. Thus helping WSU attain their goal of increasing recruitment rates.

Conveying Your Brand Voice

To achieve your desired impact, whoever is writing your stories needs to have a deep understanding of your brand voice. It’s not just about sharing experiences but doing so in a way that reflects your institution’s ethos. This ensures that the stories are not only engaging but also cohesive and true to your brand. A skilled storyteller can weave perspectives that align with your institution’s identity, creating a narrative that is both compelling and credible.
If you find yourself struggling to create relatable content that aligns with your brand’s voice, or don’t know how to seamlessly incorporate your narrative into multi-media formats, hit us up.

Speak to a Pusher